Opera Delaware's Family Opera Theatre
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Nearly every opera company in North America conducts some form of outreach to children with the intent to educate and develop young audiences. By examining the forty-year history of Opera Delaware's Family Opera Theatre, the biography of its most influential director, Evelyn Swensson, and four children's operas commissioned and produced by the company, I identify the educational and artistic goals that have made this company successful. These include allowing children opportunities to participate in the creation of professional opera, providing high quality preparatory materials, and performing operas based on quality children's books that are taught in the school curriculum. The critical analysis of four original children's operas compares the approaches of three different composers to this task and demonstrates key features of successful children's opera, which include brevity, relevant subject matter, repetition of themes or lyrics, and a balance between musical elements that are familiar and unfamiliar to children.